Wolverine, Gulo gulo luscus, Resting Sites and Caching Behavior in the Boreal Forest
Keywords:Wolverine, Gulo gulo luscus, cache, resting site, climax, boreal forest, stand, Alberta, British Columbia
AbstractWolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) caches and resting sites were examined in a study area in the boreal upland forests of northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia (approximately 57°N). Cache sites were in climax, or “overmature” stands of Black Spruce (Picea mariana) or mixed-wood of high complexity, dominated by conifers, and in which the Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) component consisted of mostly dead or dying trees characteristic of such old growth in the boreal uplands. Sites offered relatively good visibility of the surrounding stand. Sites were never located in the dense to extremely dense homogenous spruce stands documented as being favored for travel by Wolverines in the study area. The better used cache complexes were accessed by numerous well-used trails made by the Wolverines themselves. Caches consisted of the bones, hide and hair of Moose (Alces alces) believed to have been killed by Grey Wolves (Canis lupus). Caches were classified as “simple caches” composed of a single feeding site and/or excavation and “cache complexes” involving one or more feeding “stations”, latrines, resting sites, and climbing trees that may have been used as avenues of escape from competitors/predators. Resting sites were located atop the snow in relatively open locations that offered good visibility of the surroundings. Climax stands were implicated as being of importance to Wolverine caching behavior. Conservation implications include the detrimental effect on Wolverine populations likely to result from current timber harvesting practices in the boreal forest.
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